Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
IMMEDIATE ATTENTION NEEDED :
FROM: GEORGE WALKER BUSH
202.456.1414 / 202.456.1111
DEAR SIR / MADAM,
I AM GEORGE WALKER BUSH, SON OF THE FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED
STATES OF AMERICA GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH, AND CURRENTLY SERVING
AS PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. THIS LETTER MIGHT
SURPRISE YOU BECAUSE WE HAVE NOT MET NEITHER IN PERSON NOR BY
CORRESPONDENCE. I CAME TO KNOW OF YOU IN MY SEARCH FOR A RELIABLE AND
REPUTABLE PERSON TO HANDLE A VERY CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS TRANSACTION,
WHICH INVOLVES THE TRANSFER OF A HUGE SUM OF MONEY TO AN ACCOUNT
REQUIRING MAXIMUM CONFIDENCE.
I AM WRITING YOU IN ABSOLUTE CONFIDENCE PRIMARILY TO SEEK YOUR
ASSISTANCE IN ACQUIRING OIL FUNDS THAT ARE PRESENTLY TRAPPED IN THE
REPUBLIC OF IRAQ. MY PARTNERS AND I SOLICIT YOUR ASSISTANCE IN
COMPLETING A TRANSACTION BEGUN BY MY FATHER, WHO HAS LONG BEEN
ACTIVELY ENGAGED IN THE EXTRACTION OF PETROLEUM IN THE UNITED STATES
OF AMERICA, AND BRAVELY SERVED HIS COUNTRY AS DIRECTOR OF THE UNITED
STATES CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY.
IN THE DECADE OF THE NINETEEN-EIGHTIES, MY FATHER, THEN VICE-
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, SOUGHT TO WORK WITH THE
GOOD OFFICES OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF IRAQ TO REGAIN LOST
OIL REVENUE SOURCES IN THE NEIGHBORING ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN. THIS
UNSUCCESSFUL VENTURE WAS SOON FOLLOWED BY A FALLING OUT WITH HIS
IRAQI PARTNER, WHO SOUGHT TO ACQUIRE ADDITIONAL OIL REVENUE SOURCES
IN THE NEIGHBORING EMIRATE OF KUWAIT, A WHOLLY-OWNED U.S.-BRITISH
MY FATHER RE-SECURED THE PETROLEUM ASSETS OF KUWAIT IN 1991 AT A COST
OF SIXTY-ONE BILLION U.S. DOLLARS ($61,000,000,000). OUT OF THAT
COST, THIRTY-SIX BILLION DOLLARS ($36,000,000,000) WERE SUPPLIED BY
HIS PARTNERS IN THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA AND OTHER PERSIAN GULF
MONARCHIES, AND SIXTEEN BILLION DOLLARS ($16,000,000,000) BY GERMAN
AND JAPANESE PARTNERS. BUT MY FATHER'S FORMER IRAQI BUSINESS PARTNER
REMAINED IN CONTROL OF THE REPUBLIC OF IRAQ AND ITS PETROLEUM
MY FAMILY IS CALLING FOR YOUR URGENT ASSISTANCE IN FUNDING THE
REMOVAL OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF IRAQ AND ACQUIRING THE
PETROLEUM ASSETS OF HIS COUNTRY, AS COMPENSATION FOR THE COSTS OF
REMOVING HIM FROM POWER. UNFORTUNATELY, OUR PARTNERS FROM 1991 ARE
NOT WILLING TO SHOULDER THE BURDEN OF THIS NEW VENTURE, WHICH IN ITS
UPCOMING PHASE MAY COST THE SUM OF 100 BILLION TO 200 BILLION DOLLARS
($100,000,000,000 - $200,000,000,000), BOTH IN THE INITIAL
ACQUISITION AND IN LONG-TERM MANAGEMENT.
WITHOUT THE FUNDS FROM OUR 1991 PARTNERS, WE WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO
ACQUIRE THE OIL REVENUE TRAPPED WITHIN IRAQ. THAT IS WHY MY FAMILY
AND OUR COLLEAGUES ARE URGENTLY SEEKING YOUR GRACIOUS ASSISTANCE. OUR
DISTINGUISHED COLLEAGUES IN THIS BUSINESS TRANSACTION INCLUDE THE
SITTING VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, RICHARD
CHENEY, WHO IS AN ORIGINAL PARTNER IN THE IRAQ VENTURE AND FORMER
HEAD OF THE HALLIBURTON OIL COMPANY, AND CONDOLEEZA RICE, WHOSE
PROFESSIONAL DEDICATION TO THE VENTURE WAS DEMONSTRATED IN THE NAMING
OF A CHEVRON OIL TANKER AFTER HER.
I WOULD BESEECH YOU TO TRANSFER A SUM EQUALING TEN TO TWENTY-FIVE
PERCENT (10-25 %) OF YOUR YEARLY INCOME TO OUR ACCOUNT TO AID IN THIS
IMPORTANT VENTURE. THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES
OF AMERICA WILL FUNCTION AS OUR TRUSTED INTERMEDIARY. I PROPOSE THAT
YOU MAKE THIS TRANSFER BEFORE THE FIFTEENTH (15TH) OF THE MONTH OF
I KNOW THAT A TRANSACTION OF THIS MAGNITUDE WOULD MAKE ANYONE
APPREHENSIVE AND WORRIED. BUT I AM ASSURING YOU THAT ALL WILL BE WELL
AT THE END OF THE DAY. A BOLD STEP TAKEN SHALL NOT BE REGRETTED, I
ASSURE YOU. PLEASE DO BE INFORMED THAT THIS BUSINESS TRANSACTION IS
100% LEGAL. IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO CO-OPERATE IN THIS TRANSACTION,
PLEASE CONTACT OUR INTERMEDIARY REPRESENTATIVES TO FURTHER DISCUSS
I PRAY THAT YOU UNDERSTAND OUR PLIGHT. MY FAMILY AND OUR COLLEAGUES
WILL BE FOREVER GRATEFUL. PLEASE REPLY IN STRICT CONFIDENCE TO THE
CONTACT NUMBERS BELOW.
SINCERELY WITH WARM REGARDS,
GEORGE WALKER BUSH
January 15, 2003
The United States of America has gone mad
John le Carré
America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but
this is the worst I can remember: worse than McCarthyism, worse than
the Bay of Pigs and in the long term potentially more disastrous than
the Vietnam War. The reaction to 9/11 is beyond anything Osama bin
Laden could have hoped for in his nastiest dreams. As in McCarthy
times, the freedoms that have made America the envy of the world are
being systematically eroded. The combination of compliant US media
and vested corporate interests is once more ensuring that a debate
that should be ringing out in every town square is confined to the
loftier columns of the East Coast press.
The imminent war was planned years before bin Laden struck, but it
was he who made it possible. Without bin Laden, the Bush junta would
still be trying to explain such tricky matters as how it came to be
elected in the first place; Enron; its shameless favouring of the
already-too-rich; its reckless disregard for the world's poor, the
ecology and a raft of unilaterally abrogated international treaties.
They might also have to be telling us why they support Israel in its
continuing disregard for UN resolutions.
But bin Laden conveniently swept all that under the carpet. The
Bushies are riding high. Now 88 per cent of Americans want the war,
we are told. The US defence budget has been raised by another $60
billion to around $360 billion. A splendid new generation of nuclear
weapons is in the pipeline, so we can all breathe easy. Quite what
war 88 per cent of Americans think they are supporting is a lot less
clear. A war for how long, please? At what cost in American lives? At
what cost to the American taxpayer's pocket? At what cost - because
most of those 88 per cent are thoroughly decent and humane people -
in Iraqi lives?
How Bush and his junta succeeded in deflecting America's anger from
bin Laden to Saddam Hussein is one of the great public relations
conjuring tricks of history. But they swung it. A recent poll tells
us that one in two Americans now believe Saddam was responsible for
the attack on the World Trade Centre. But the American public is not
merely being misled. It is being browbeaten and kept in a state of
ignorance and fear. The carefully orchestrated neurosis should carry
Bush and his fellow conspirators nicely into the next election.
Those who are not with Mr Bush are against him. Worse, they are with
the enemy. Which is odd, because I'm dead against Bush, but I would
love to see Saddam's downfall - just not on Bush's terms and not by
his methods. And not under the banner of such outrageous hypocrisy.
The religious cant that will send American troops into battle is
perhaps the most sickening aspect of this surreal war-to-be. Bush has
an arm-lock on God. And God has very particular political opinions.
God appointed America to save the world in any way that suits
America. God appointed Israel to be the nexus of America's Middle
Eastern policy, and anyone who wants to mess with that idea is a)
anti-Semitic, b) anti-American, c) with the enemy, and d) a
God also has pretty scary connections. In America, where all men are
equal in His sight, if not in one another's, the Bush family numbers
one President, one ex-President, one ex-head of the CIA, the Governor
of Florida and the ex-Governor of Texas.
Care for a few pointers? George W. Bush, 1978-84: senior executive,
Arbusto Energy/Bush Exploration, an oil company; 1986-90: senior
executive of the Harken oil company. Dick Cheney, 1995-2000: chief
executive of the Halliburton oil company. Condoleezza Rice, 1991-
2000: senior executive with the Chevron oil company, which named an
oil tanker after her. And so on. But none of these trifling
associations affects the integrity of God's work.
In 1993, while ex-President George Bush was visiting the ever-
democratic Kingdom of Kuwait to receive thanks for liberating them,
somebody tried to kill him. The CIA believes that "somebody" was
Saddam. Hence Bush Jr's cry: "That man tried to kill my Daddy." But
it's still not personal, this war. It's still necessary. It's still
God's work. It's still about bringing freedom and democracy to
oppressed Iraqi people.
To be a member of the team you must also believe in Absolute Good and
Absolute Evil, and Bush, with a lot of help from his friends, family
and God, is there to tell us which is which. What Bush won't tell us
is the truth about why we're going to war. What is at stake is not an
Axis of Evil - but oil, money and people's lives. Saddam's misfortune
is to sit on the second biggest oilfield in the world. Bush wants it,
and who helps him get it will receive a piece of the cake. And who
If Saddam didn't have the oil, he could torture his citizens to his
heart's content. Other leaders do it every day - think Saudi Arabia,
think Pakistan, think Turkey, think Syria, think Egypt.
Baghdad represents no clear and present danger to its neighbours, and
none to the US or Britain. Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, if
he's still got them, will be peanuts by comparison with the stuff
Israel or America could hurl at him at five minutes' notice. What is
at stake is not an imminent military or terrorist threat, but the
economic imperative of US growth. What is at stake is America's need
to demonstrate its military power to all of us - to Europe and Russia
and China, and poor mad little North Korea, as well as the Middle
East; to show who rules America at home, and who is to be ruled by
The most charitable interpretation of Tony Blair's part in all this
is that he believed that, by riding the tiger, he could steer it. He
can't. Instead, he gave it a phoney legitimacy, and a smooth voice.
Now I fear, the same tiger has him penned into a corner, and he can't
It is utterly laughable that, at a time when Blair has talked himself
against the ropes, neither of Britain's opposition leaders can lay a
glove on him. But that's Britain's tragedy, as it is America's: as
our Governments spin, lie and lose their credibility, the electorate
simply shrugs and looks the other way. Blair's best chance of
personal survival must be that, at the eleventh hour, world protest
and an improbably emboldened UN will force Bush to put his gun back
in his holster unfired. But what happens when the world's greatest
cowboy rides back into town without a tyrant's head to wave at the
Blair's worst chance is that, with or without the UN, he will drag us
into a war that, if the will to negotiate energetically had ever been
there, could have been avoided; a war that has been no more
democratically debated in Britain than it has in America or at the
UN. By doing so, Blair will have set back our relations with Europe
and the Middle East for decades to come. He will have helped to
provoke unforeseeable retaliation, great domestic unrest, and
regional chaos in the Middle East. Welcome to the party of the
ethical foreign policy.
There is a middle way, but it's a tough one: Bush dives in without UN
approval and Blair stays on the bank. Goodbye to the special
I cringe when I hear my Prime Minister lend his head prefect's
sophistries to this colonialist adventure. His very real anxieties
about terror are shared by all sane men. What he can't explain is how
he reconciles a global assault on al-Qaeda with a territorial assault
on Iraq. We are in this war, if it takes place, to secure the fig
leaf of our special relationship, to grab our share of the oil pot,
and because, after all the public hand-holding in Washington and Camp
David, Blair has to show up at the altar.
"But will we win, Daddy?"
"Of course, child. It will all be over while you're still in bed."
"Because otherwise Mr Bush's voters will get terribly impatient and
may decide not to vote for him."
"But will people be killed, Daddy?"
"Nobody you know, darling. Just foreign people."
"Can I watch it on television?"
"Only if Mr Bush says you can."
"And afterwards, will everything be normal again? Nobody will do
anything horrid any more?"
"Hush child, and go to sleep."
Last Friday a friend of mine in California drove to his local
supermarket with a sticker on his car saying: "Peace is also
Patriotic". It was gone by the time he'd finished shopping.
The author has also contributed to an openDemocracy debate on Iraq at
IBM's Gambit Declined
by Mickey Z.
Just as we're submitted to television spectacles of sprinters racing
giraffes, Dylan Loeb McClain of the New York Times informs us "Garry
Kasparov, the world's top-ranked player and the former world
champion, will play a $1 million, six-game match against a chess
program called Deep Junior" ("If a Machine Creates Something
Beautiful, Is It an Artist?" January 25, 2003). This will be the
first time Kasparov has "matched wits against a computer," as the
Times calls it, since losing to Deep Blue... in what appeared to be
one long commercial for IBM in 1997.
"Whether Mr. Kasparov wins or loses, clearly chess computers have
reached a point where they can compete against, and sometimes beat,
the world's best players," McClain says before reminding that even
Kasparov "admits that the point at which computers consistently play
better than humans is probably not that far off."
We also learn from this article that in 1997, a Stanford University
pitted a human against a computer to see which could compose music in
the style of Bach. "The computer won," the Times reports without
The question McClain draws from all this is: "If computers become
better than humans at chess, does that mean that computers are being
artistic or that chess is essentially a complicated puzzle?"
For me, the questions lie deeper.
Just as we commonly and unselfconsciously describe an airplane
as "flying," we may innocently use the word "think" or "play"
or "compose" to define the actions of a programmed computer-should we
feel impressed enough with the similarities to adopt such a metaphor.
However, while very few people truly believe that airplanes fly (or
that submarines don't "swim," they "set sail"), the concept of a
machine out-thinking (or out-playing) a human has gained widespread
acceptance thanks to the venerable game of chess.
In the 30 years since Bobby Fischer launched chess onto the pop
culture radar screen, technicians have spent countless hours
designing computerized chess programs. Lost amidst the hype
surrounding Big Blue's "victory" over Kasparov is the simple reality
that computers can't think. Hence, no matter who "wins" when man
confronts machine, such a match-up can tell us precious little about
the human mind and even less about chess playing.
Noam Chomsky, institute professor of linguistics at Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, has written and lectured widely about issues
of human intelligence, like airplanes flying, submarines setting
sail, and machines playing chess.
"All of these things are questions about sharpening and altering
usage, they're not questions of fact," Chomsky says. "Well, there's a
completely separate question which shouldn't get confused with this,
and that's the question whether simulation might teach us something
about the process that's being simulated. So, you could ask the
question, would some chess-playing program, for example, teach us
something about human thought. The answer to that is 'certainly
The reason for this is simple. The best chess-playing programs
succeed by abandoning any notion of simulating human thought and
instead relying on the unique capacities of computers.
Even McClain, in the Times, concedes this point. "People rely on
pattern recognition, stored knowledge, some calculation and that
great unquantifiable - intuition," he writes. "Computers, on the
other hand, have a database of chess knowledge but mostly rely on
brute force calculation, meaning they sift through millions of
positions each second, placing a value on each result. In other
words, they play chess the way they attack a large math problem."
"The better computer programs are ones that simply use the fact that
computers can do things extremely fast," says Chomsky. "So you can
get a bunch of grandmasters to sit there for year after year and
program in answers to just about every possible problem anybody can
think of.... So, as simulation, this is a stupid topic. It's hard
imagine a more stupid topic if you're trying to learn anything about
Snowdon Parlette is the author of The Brain Work-Out Book: Aerobics
for the Mind. "Computers operate in a slavishly logical fashion and
are unable to do what we call reason," he explains. "Human brains act
more like a large committee coming to a consensus after having
considered all the relevant information and taking input from many
"Incidentally," Chomsky adds, "a computerized chess program has no
other purpose either, as far as I can see, except maybe taking the
fun out of playing chess."
Well, that and selling plenty of software.
Your typical desktop computer is the result of a few decades of work
and is composed of roughly five million transistors while the human
brain-at least two hundred thousand years in the making-has more
synaptic connections than the number of known stars in the universe.
Thus, like a dolphin racing a submarine across the Pacific or an
eagle pitted against an F-16 from coast-to-coast, the man vs.
machine "contest" is utterly meaningless.
Such spectacles would be best left to Rupert Murdoch's network, not
only because the supposed simulation teaches us nothing about the act
being simulated but, more importantly, the brute force of a man-made
machine will never be a match for the living and creative beauty of a
dolphin swimming or an eagle flying...or a human being thinking or
Mickey Z. is the author of The Murdering of My Years: Artists and
Activists Making Ends Meet (www.murderingofmyyears.com) and an editor
at Wide Angle (www.wideangleny.com). He can be reached at: